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FG demands 50 percent tax on tobacco

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As part of the efforts to tackle tobacco-induced cancer, companies and individuals involved in tobacco business in the country have been directed to apply for license.

Such applications are to be sent to the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC).

The Federal Government is also tinkering with the idea of imposing a 50 per cent tax on tobacco products.

The moves stem from an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) directive on harmonisation of excise duties which prescribes ad valorem duty rate of at least 50% in addition to a specific tax rate of at least 0.02 US dollar (N7.00) per stick of cigarette, cigar and cigarillos with 20 US dollar (N7,200.00) per net kilogram for all other tobacco products.

Currently, the country tax regime is twenty per cent valorem duty rate in addition to a specific excise tax of N20 per pack of 20 sticks of cigarettes.

Announcing this on Friday, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi said: “Henceforth, each tobacco business shall apply for license to the FMoH through the National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC).

“Tobacco Company that manufactures tobacco products for sale in Nigeria shall print pictorial graphic health warning messages on the packages of their tobacco products as prescribed in the National Tobacco Control Regulations.

“The pictorial graphic health warning shall take effect 18 months from the date of official gazette of the Regulations and this will replace the outdated text warning which says considering the role of weighty tobacco excise tax in demand-reduction, the Ministry is canvassing with the Fiscal Authorities to raise the excise beyond the current rate so that Nigeria can be at per with ECOWAS directive.”

Abdullahi told reporters on the occasion of this year’s World No Tobacco and lung Health that there is a high burden of tobacco in the country with over 20 billion stocks of cigarettes consumed annually and over 16,000 deaths as a result of tobacco related ailment.

He added: “In Nigeria, findings from the 2012 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) show very high burden of tobacco in the country with over 20 billion sticks of cigarettes consumed annually.

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“The Nigerian GATS found 4.5 million (5.6%) adults to be current users of tobacco products. Also, the rate of exposure to second-hand smoke in public places is very high at 82% in bars and nightclubs, 36.3% in coffee shops and 29.3% in restaurants. Among our school children age 13 – 15 years, 15.4% are current tobacco users based on the Nigeria Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) that was conducted in 2008 at sub-national level.”

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